Urgent care centers (UCCs) and other convenient care clinics have long existed in the United States as part of the care continuum for non-emergency medical conditions. Although UCC development was slow in early years of existence, a sudden surge in the growth of these clinics has occurred in the past decade. Changes in insurance reimbursement, consumer demand for convenient, timely access to care, and increasing financial exposure for patients and hospitals by payers have attributed to this growth. A recent survey indicates that demand is particularly high among millennials (ages 21-32), whose preference for UCCs and retail clinics is double that of baby boomers (ages 50-71). If these preferences persist over time, identifying and understanding the differences between UCCs and traditional ambulatory care settings will be critical both for informed patient choice and provider evolution toward more patient-centered care.
This fact sheet discusses various ambulatory care settings, UCC ownership characteristics, the UCC regulatory environment, and care coordination considerations.